What Type of Contact Lens Should I Wear for Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a degenerative eye disease that causes the cornea to start thinning and bulging into a cone shape, affecting the person’s vision. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you can still wear contact lenses – in fact, some contact lenses are better than eyeglasses for keratoconus, especially in more advanced stages of the condition. Here are your options when it comes to wearing contact lenses with keratoconus.
Soft contact lenses
Soft contact lenses are not a typical choice for keratoconus patients. However, people who find it difficult to tolerate “hard” contact lenses may respond well to custom soft lenses. These lenses may provide less visual clarity, so it’s critical to weigh the importance of comfort versus optimal vision. There are some new products available that may be of assistance, such as special lenses that come in different thicknesses and those made of specific materials that offer better results. Soft lenses are probably the most effective in earlier stages of keratoconus.
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses
RGP contact lenses are commonly used to treat people with keratoconus. “Gas permeable” means that these lenses let oxygen flow through the material to your eyes. They help protect the health of your eyes by allowing them to “breathe.” RGP lenses offer excellent vision correction, but some patients find them hard to wear for extended periods of time. While you may find soft lenses more comfortable, RGP lenses provide significantly better vision correction because they don’t mold to the shape of your eye the way soft lenses do (and it’s the shape of your eye that’s causing your vision problems, after all).
Scleral contact lenses
Scleral contact lenses are the gold standard when it comes to choosing contact lenses for keratoconus because they provide both clear vision and superior comfort. Scleral lenses are designed with a “dome” or reservoir that floats above the eye’s surface. This shape serves multiple purposes. First, it corrects the shape of the cornea and improves vision. Also, this reservoir collects tears, keeping the eyes lubricated and comfortable throughout the day. Scleral lenses are also larger than traditional lenses, so they sit further out on the eye on a less sensitive area. Because the edge of the lens sits under the eyelid, it won’t move around when you blink, either.
Patient with advanced Keratoconus and Scleral Lenses
Related post: What Vision Problems Do Scleral Lenses Correct?
Hybrid contact lenses
Hybrid contact lenses are another option for patients with keratoconus. These lenses combine the best of both worlds – the rigid design that allows them to hold their shape better along with the easier wear and longer-lasting comfort of soft lenses. They also deliver crystal-clear vision, just like RGP lenses. Hybrid lenses provide allow oxygen transmission to the eye and promote better tear exchange, making them a comfortable, safe, and effective option. Because these lenses have soft edges, they tend to have a familiar fit and feel to the traditional lenses that you may be accustomed to wearing.
Piggyback contact lenses
Some patients do well with a piggyback lens system. This system means that you wear a soft contact lens on the eye and a rigid gas permeable or gas permeable lens on top of it. This combination can provide the sharp vision of an RGP lens along with the comfort of a soft lens because the soft lens underneath acts as a cushion and a shield for the surface of the eye. This system may take some getting used to, but it works very well for many individuals. Ideally, the soft lens is a silicone hydrogel lens. It may be a daily, monthly, or two-week disposable lens, as long as the RGP lens that sits atop it is compatible.
The best type of contact lens for your keratoconus is the one that works for you. Your eye doctor can help you identify your best option, which may take a little trial and error. If you have keratoconus and would like to wear contact lenses, contact us for a consultation, and we’ll be happy to help you find your perfect lens.